Melbourne Law School - Theses

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    Occupation, resistance & the law: Was armed resistance to the occupation of Iraq justified under international Law?
    Clarke, Benjamin Matthew ( 2009)
    The 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq triggered a plethora of legal questions. This study focuses upon two: Was Iraqi resistance to the invasion and occupation justified under the laws of war? If so, by whom and for how long? ('The research questions') These are questions that the UN Security Council deliberately avoided when it responded to the intervention. Given that most States and commentators regarded the intervention as a violation of the UN Charter, the legality of armed resistance to the invasion and occupation warrants analysis. The present study examines, inter alia, whether Iraq was justified in using force against Coalition forces in the exercise of rights under the jus ad hellum. It considers whether self-defence and self determination provided a juridical foundation for armed resistance to the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Attention is also paid to the jus in hello. Issues addressed include: the nature of the conflict(s) during the occupation; whether members of various resistance forces qualified as combatants; and the issue of compliance with the jus in hello during resistance operations. In order to address these matters with precision, the occupation of Iraq is considered in several stages: 1. The immediate aftermath of the ouster of the Ba'ath regime (April-May 2003); 2. Post-UNSCR 1483; 3. Post-UNSCR 1511; and 4. Post-UNSCR 1546 (and pre-28 June 2004). The fourth stage highlights a matter of fundamental importance to this study the end point of the occupation. The position adopted here is that the occupation was terminated, with UNSC approval, upon the transfer of power to an Iraqi government on 28 June 2004. Thereafter, armed resistance could not have been justified under the right of national self-defence, as this right is exercisable by governments, not insurgent forces. While it may be argued that military occupation continued, as a matter of fact, beyond the transfer of power, this writer's view is that, as a matter of law, the occupation was terminated on 28 June 2004, in accordance with UNSCR 1546. Discussion of 'the legality of resistance to occupation' is thus confined to the period between the collapse of the Ba'ath regime in April 2003 and the transfer of power on 28 June 2004. In addressing the research questions, a range of contemporary legal issues are highlighted. They include: 1. Unresolved tensions within the laws of war over the precise parameters of 'lawful resistance' to foreign occupation; 2. Overlap and convergence of the jus in hello and the }us ad hellum in the context of armed resistance to occupation. (The clearest example is the right of peoples to fight for self determination against alien occupation which falls within both branches of the laws of war); 3. Whether the right of self-defence may be overridden by the UNSC; 4. Whether UNSC resolutions depend for their validity upon their conformity with jus cogens norms; and 5. Whether armed resistance to UN-authorized forces is, by its nature, a breach of the UN Charter and therefore an unlawful use of force.